Ahead of this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, which will see a Nascar cup car enter for the first time, French car maker Alpine has stepped into the limelight to unveil its new endurance racing concept. Called the A424_β, the new racer will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2024 and teases the future of Alpine’s car design.
Launched at Le Mans this morning, the A424_β will see French outfit Alpine enter the new Hypercar class of endurance racing next year, which includes starts at the famed French race in 2024. The sports car maker’s entry into the Hypercar class follows its launch in Formula 1 in 2021 and its extensive e-sports program.
“In 2013, we convinced Alpine to return to racing, and we knew that such a brand only belongs in the premier class,” says Philippe Sinault, Alpine Elf Endurance team principal.
“Our ten-year adventure has resulted in European and world titles in several disciplines. More than ever, we are genuinely proud and pleased to represent Alpine at the pinnacle of Endurance racing and other collaborations with the A110 Cup, A110 GT4, A110 Rally and soon the A110 Pikes Peak. It has created a positive momentum around our projects and it offers fantastic prospects for the future.”
What’s interesting about the Hypercar class (or LMDh) that Alpine will compete in is that each entry into the category must be built around one of four accepted chassis designs. Teams are then able to fit them with an engine of their choice, as well as a common 50 kW hybrid system.
In the case of the Alpine, this looks like a turbocharged V6 engine with a displacement of 3,400 cc. In race trim, the engine will kick out 674 hp, which is backed up by the standard Bosch hybrid system that adds an additional 50 kW of power.
To further differentiate the cars on track, the bodywork of each entry can vary wildly and Alpine says in its case this will “adopt the styling cues of the standard production vehicles of the brand.” This means that the A424_β “reveals the styling cues of future production models,” according to Alpine.
“Our vision was to have a pure body, like a road-going supercar. We tried to be efficient, so we simplified, smoothed and purified the surfaces as much as possible to avoid adding volumes and heterogeneous elements,” says Raphaël Linari, chief designer at Alpine.
“It is particularly true at the rear. It is the end of the aerodynamic line, where drag should be as fluid as possible. We’ve kept it as streamlined as possible to emancipate from the cube-like appearance typical of Le Mans prototypes.”
The resulting car looks awesome. For me, standout details include the excellent ‘A’ shaped tail lights, as well as that massive wing/fin combination at the rear of the car. Whether or not details like those make it onto Alpine’s road cars one day, we’ll have to wait and see. Either way, if the A424_β is a sign of things to come at Alpine, I’m very excited to see the future of the French outfit unfold.
But what are the automaker’s next steps before letting this thing loose on track? Well, as you can see from the pictures, it’s just a concept at this stage. So, the first step will be to carry out a shakedown test of the car – which Alpine is hopeful will take place at the end of July.
Next, it will carry out further test runs at circuits including Paul Ricard in France and the Circuito de Jerez in Spain. The car’s homologation process is slated for December, before its first on-track entry in the 6 Hours of Qatar in March 2024.